Friday, December 25, 2009

1st Christmas Day on Duggan

The children are playing Sims Agents on the Wii. Radio 2's Christmas Day programming is playing on the computers - just waiting for the Messiah to start. I would have played the Tafelmusik recording that we made back in the 90s when I sang with the Tafelmusik chamber choir but I seem to have given away all my copies before burning one to our computer. I will clearly have to rectify this situation. I hope I can still buy a copy through the Tafelmusik head office since I haven't been able to track one down online.

At some point we'll go out for a while to deliver a present to their new best friend Bronwyn and chocolate liqueurs to Grandad - my 92 year old father. When we come home it's time to cook since Amnon and Alisa are coming for an early dinner. Eyal is planning on making a bean and escarole soup and a cheese fondue. Alisa is an inspired baker and cook and it always raises our game when we cook for her. Walnut Cream Roll is one of the amazing desserts she makes for us for very special occasions. When I tried to encourage her to add my birthday to that short list she quite rightly reminded me about the old adage about fishing. Were I to learn to bake this cake for myself I could have it any old time I want it!

Today is the day that I will tackle a Walnut Cream Roll for the first time. This is the recipe I will use. It's a combination of the recipe my MIL uses which she dictated to me from an Israeli cookbook that I can't read and a recipe I found at It turns out that she's been substituting Hazelnuts for Walnuts. Yet another reason for me to make this recipe for myself since I'm mildly allergic to Hazelnuts!

5 eggs (separate yolks and whites) 3/4 c. sugar 1/4 c. flour 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. vanilla 1 1/2 c. walnuts (chopped fine) 1/2 pt. whipping cream

Beat whites, salt, vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add sugar gradually, then set aside. Beat yolks until they look a lemon color. Combine chopped nuts and flour. Fold yolks into whites then fold in flour and nut mixture.

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Spread mixture evenly and bake at 375 for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove wax paper from roll and spread on a cloth that is sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar and roll up while the roll is still warm. This must be done immediately because it has to be kept moist otherwise it will crack. After it has cooled, mix the whipping cream, spread on roll and re-roll and keep enough whipping cream for the top and sides of the roll. Decorate the top with chocolate shavings. Keep in refrigerator until served. Makes one roll. Serves 9.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Feast

My brothers and sister and I grew up enjoying a "real Christmas dinner" served mid-afternoon just in time for us to take a break from playing with all our toys. Well into our adulthood we continued to gather together around a Christmas tree and a turkey to exchange presents and eat too much. As the years have gone by our Christmas traditions have fallen by the wayside. Chanukah and other Jewish celebrations have become more important to some of us, travel to visit distant relatives has become essential for others.

Yesterday my sister marked the "ninth" night of Chanukah with her annual Latke Flip. Dozens of friends and family crowded into her kitchen clamouring for latkes as her son Daniel stood at the stove frying them up hour after smokey hour.

Today the turkey I 'won' at Loblaws for spending $250 in one fell swoop is ready to go in the oven. Two stuffings have been prepared to bake beside it - the traditional stuffing (including sauteed turkey liver) and a vegetarian offering with toasted walnuts. A spicy broiled salmon will be available for those who aren't fans of turkey. My brother and sister and their families will be descending upon us in a few hours to help do it justice. I'm not going overboard on the side dishes because, as my husband and I always say, "nobody eats".

Yesterday I made the cranberry sauce. Usually we make jellied sauce over bartlett pears in honour of my Granny. This year I've switched to a whole cranberry recipe because I prefer it. I'm bracing for the chorus of disapproval.

Now it's time to start the mulled cranberry punch. I searched the internet for a recipe and this is what I've decided to try based on what I have in the house and the flavours that strike my fancy:

Cranberry-Raspberry cocktail
A touch of Red wine
cinnamon stick

My nephew Daniel will bring the cuisinart and some more potatoes and the flipping of latkes will continue. My sister in law and I will lead the family in the singing of Christmas carols, the children will play the Chanukah songs they learned this year and we hope that Daniel will spend some time getting reacquainted with the piano after his months away at University.

On Friday my sister Judy and I were moved to tears by the Petit Fours and Buche de Noel at Patachou and the memories they brought us of our mother. Cranberry sauce for Granny, a buche for Mummy, latkes for Bubbe - we wonder what traditions our children's children will carry on in our memory forty years from now.

Happy Holidays however you celebrate them and whatever traditions you treasure.